Beaten finalists last season, Athletic Club began their 2012/13 UEFA Europa League campaign in victorious fashion as former continental champions FC Internazionale Milano and Liverpool FC also won.
Athletic started with five of the XI who featured from the off in May's all-Liga showpiece against Club Atlético de Madrid in Bucharest, but it was a lesser-known face who grabbed the headlines. Ismael López, 22, scored twice on his senior debut for the Basque club as Los Leones defeated NK Slaven Koprivnica 3-1 at home.
A trip to Croatia to face HNK Hajduk Split is not a task many sides would relish, but Inter left the Dalmatian coast impressive 3-0 winners. Wesley Sneijder (18) rifled the Nerazzurri in front, a lead doubled just before half-time by Yuto Nagatomo's bobbling effort. Philippe Coutinho completed the scoring in the second half.
Liverpool also prevailed on their travels, although the going was tougher than might have been expected as they overcame FC Gomel 1-0. Winger Stewart Downing hit just two goals in all competitions last season, but was the match-winner with a long-range strike in Brendan Rodgers' first competitive fixture in charge of the Reds.
UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists last term, Olympique de Marseille were unable to provide a victory for their new coach, Élie Baup, who watched his side draw 1-1 at Eskişehirspor – a terrific result for the Turkish team, who are playing in this competition for first time in 36 years.
There was a battle between master and pupil in Ramenskoye, where FC Anzhi Makhachkala coach Guus Hiddink went toe-to-toe with his former assistant at PSV Eindhoven, Fred Rutten, now in charge of Vitesse. Hiddink was the tactician left smiling, though, as second-half strikes from Oleg Shatov and Fedor Smolov secured Anzhi a 2-0 success.
Elsewhere, APOEL FC and FC Viktoria Plzeň both won, although Plzeň will be considerably happier with their 2-0 triumph at Ruch Chorzów than APOEL will be at conceding an away goal in a 2-1 comeback victory at home to Aalesunds FK.
FC Twente (2-0), Hannover 96 (3-0) and sc Heerenveen (4-0) all established good leads, while Bořek Dočkal hit his fifth goal in four European matches to go top of the scoring charts and earn Rosenborg BK a 1-1 draw at Servette FC. The second legs take place on 9 August.
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